Editorial: ITV craving a leader, but who will take on the job?

It's a measure of the strife bedevilling ITV that nobody who might make a decent fist of leading it seems to want to touch the job with a sterilised bargepole.

What began as high drama has descended into low farce. First came the collapse of the broadcaster's protracted talks with the former BSkyB boss Tony Ball, who had been the frontrunner for the chief executive role. Then, Sir Crispin Davis, having been the leading contender to be ITV's chairman (and the man who would have taken the lead in the appointment of a chief executive), said he did not want the role because he believed it to be too "high profile".

This week, the latest frontrunner, the airline tycoon Sir Michael Bishop, also pulled out, reportedly because he considered the job to be too complex for the time he could afford to devote to it.

Their caution is hardly surprising. With the autumn trading season underway, ITV's lack of leadership (even with interim chief executive, John Cresswell, belatedly in place) is provoking alarm among advertisers. Meanwhile, shareholders are becoming restive as the company sheds jobs and haemorrhages millions of pounds amid the ad slump.

Today, ITV desperately needs somebody with insight and vision to safeguard its place in a rapidly fragmenting media world. Blockbusters such as The X Factor may still deliver, but multichannel TV and the internet continue to erode viewing figures and too many new shows have flopped.

Any incoming leader has a big dilemma. ITV's huge fixed costs, debt and pension fund liabilities have made cost-cutting essential, this week's bond issue notwithstanding. Yet a drastic cut in spending on content is bound to result in audience figures continuing to drop - and revenue along with it.

The ITV board must act quickly and firmly if the com-pany is not to give the impression of drifting aimlessly. As Oscar Wilde might have said: to lose one would-be chairman may be regarded as misfortune, to lose two looks like carelessness.

Topics

You have

[DAYS_LEFT] Days left

of your free trial

Subscribe now

Become a member of Campaign from just £46 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.co.uk ,plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a member

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now
Share

1 Why creative people have lost their way

What better way to kick off the inaugural issue of Campaign's monthly print offering than with another think piece on the current failings of our industry, written by an embittered, pretentious creative who misses "the way things used to be"...

Share

1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).